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Do you know what’s weird? Being friends with your ex-lovers on Facebook. Come to think of it, that word, the l word, the ‘lover’ word is probably a bit misleading. Something like ‘friends-of-friends’ or ‘fuck-buddies’ or ‘guys-I-accidentally-slept-with-after-various-staff-parties’ would probably be more accurate. Whatever you call them, being Facebook pals is awkward (and no, I can’t just delete them because that would just make things more awkward). Scrolling down my news feed is too much information. Do I really need to know that J (circumcised builder, summer fling) is mining in Perth and that, no matter how much water he drinks, his piss remains orange? Or that N (strapping ex-triathlete, high school love interest) has had a baby called Georgia with whom he poses for pictures with bottles of Tui in her mouth?
It gets worse, this being friends on Facebook thing. Sometimes the ball flies right out of the cringe-worthy park and straight into distressing territory. Last week B (sarcastic chemistry student, too many tequilas) updated his status to read ‘Facebook raped me’. You know what, B? I just don’t think Facebook did that. When I saw that status I wanted to throw up. I couldn’t believe that I had slept with somebody who would feel okay with using the word ‘rape’ so flippantly. How could I have fucked someone so blissfully unaware of their privilege, that they would use a rape joke as their Facebook status, on a public forum, and think that not one person out of their four hundred and seventy four Facebook friends had been raped. That’s the thing about rape jokes. Nobody ever stops to think that maybe, just maybe, they might be telling their joke to rape survivors. Nobody ever thinks they might be asking people to laugh at their own experiences of sexual assault.
I know that I talk about words a lot here. I’ve talked about ‘PC’ and ‘gay’ and I’m saving ‘fat’ and ‘tranny’ for next semester. I talk about words for a reason. I do it because words matter. I do it because words mean things. Research indicates that sexist humour increases personal tolerance of discrimination towards women. Just like sexist, homophobic and racist jokes cement harmful cultural stereotypes, rape jokes trivialise the act of rape. It’s not about rape jokes being offensive. It’s about rape jokes solidifying a culture in which one in four women are raped in their lifetime, and I’m not okay with that.
I’m not okay with living in a world where the only time it is okay to talk about rape is when you’re joking about it. I’m not okay with living in a word where wearing a short skirt could be confused with consent. I’m not okay with living in a world where we teach young women not to walk alone down dark alleys but we teach young men nothing about not raping women. I’m not okay with rape culture. I’m not okay with rape jokes.